Leigh Crestohl comments on the SFO securing convictions against two former Unaoil executives

July 15 2020

Following a four-year investigation, the SFO has secured convictions against two former Unaoil executives, who conspired to give corrupt payments to win oil services contracts in Iraq. However, SFO Director Lisa Osofsky’s conduct is under review over how she led the case.

Leigh Crestohl, a partner at Zaiwalla & Co, says the case “is something of a bittersweet success for the SFO.”

"It has gone through a period of scrutiny and concern about its efficacy, and to now have a success tainted by allegations of misconduct and some judicial criticism may only shift the perception slightly."

Leigh added:

"Where the SFO works in tandem with other regulatory agencies, this is likely to be a reflection of the multi-faceted, and multi-jurisdictional, nature of foreign corrupt practices and bribery in the global economy. Equally, where multinational corporations are the target of an investigation, a cooperative approach between regulators and investigators is likely to be crucial for a successful prosecution.

"Judicial criticism is always a serious matter. British judges typically exercise restraint so, where criticism is meted out, it rightly attracts attention and needs to be considered very seriously. It is all the more serious in this case because it comes in the course of a public prosecution and the criticism is directed not only at a key regulatory/investigative agency in the UK's legal financial crime infrastructure, but also at its Director herself.  Public regulatory bodies need to be perceived as operating according to fair and appropriate internal procedures.  It is right that there should be an internal investigation, but the SFO will also need to reevaluate whether it is appropriate to continue to work with external intelligence "service providers" and if so, what policies and controls need to be in place to ensure that any involvement does not compromise the integrity of the investigative process and any ensuing prosecution."

Read the full article in Compliance Week here.

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